The growing need for rapid reaction out of area operations using light rapid reaction heli-portable manned and unmanned vehicles has seen a growth in lightweight ground-to-ground missile systems launched from such vehicles.
BATTLESPACE looks at some of the advanced lightweight Ground-to-Ground Missiles on the market today.
Arnold Defense Fletcher
Arnold Defense, a US St Louis based international manufacturer and supplier of 2.75-inch rocket launchers, is unveiling a concept named the ‘FLETCHER’ 2.75-inch/70mm Weapon System. FLETCHER can be mounted on land-based military vehicles as well as, potentially, marine and littoral platforms. The debut of the FLETCHER concept coincided with DSEi in 2017.
The FLETCHER concept is supported by a team of global defense industry companies working together under Arnold’s leadership to combine their complimentary expertise. The full team composition has yet to be announced however, at this stage, Arnold are able to confirm the involvement of Military Systems Group, Nammo and Supacat. Working together, the team is able to provide a full-system approach to FLETCHER ranging from design and integration through testing, validation and manufacture into ammunition and through-life support.
Traditionally, 2.75-inch rocket systems have been used as an area suppression weapon, ordinarily deployed by aviation assets. The team has turned this concept on its head with the advancement of guided rocket technology to meet the modern demands of land-based, vehicle mounted and dismounted asymmetric warfare, for special and conventional forces.
FLETCHER is a unique design that allows for ease of operation, maintenance and sustainment in support of combat operations. FLETCHER employs an existing suite of guidance modules, motors and warheads which are already used in well-known programs and are readily available to global forces. Working in-concert with world-class designation equipment, FLETCHER is a fully integrated weapon system that can engage targets at ranges up to 6.5km giving land forces capability that previously required the deployment of air assets.
Jim Hager, President and CEO of Arnold Defense said, “FLETCHER is an exciting new development for Arnold Defense and our team partners. We’re already exceedingly well established in the air environment with our rocket systems being used on air platforms globally. Moving that success into the land environment with our 2.75-inch rocket systems fitted to wheeled and tracked vehicles, as well as in a dismounted role, will provide ground forces with an entirely new capability”. He added: “there is further development work required but if all goes well, we’re expecting to have the system ready for sale towards the end of 2018.”
In April 2019 Arnold Defense announced receipt of the first order for their unique FLETCHER Land Based, Laser Guided Rocket Launcher.
The first customer for the FLETCHER system, who cannot yet be disclosed, has committed to purchasing FLETCHER due to the system’s ability to accurately engage targets at a range of over 5km, with a 100% hit rate in recent test-firings. This first order is for an initial batch of launchers, with a larger order expected to follow once successful user trials and demonstrations have been completed.
Mike Brown, Vice President and COO of Arnold Defense said, “Given that the FLETCHER concept was unveiled to the public only 18 months ago, Arnold Defense is delighted to have signed what we anticipate to be the first of many contracts for the supremely capable FLETCHER surface-based rocket launcher.” He added, “FLETCHER has generated huge interest globally with its unique capability to deliver organic, long-range precision firepower to even the smallest tactical element. It is great to see serious international interest now developing into firm orders.”
MBDA IMPACT/MMP and Milrem Robotics
MBDA and Milrem Robotics showcased the world’s first anti-tank unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) at IDEX 2019, the main defence industry event in the MENA region. The debut of the system’s advanced concept comes only eight months after Milrem Robotics and MBDA announced the start of feasibility studies of the system. The joint project integrates the Milrem Robotics THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle with the MBDA IMPACT (Integrated MMP Precision Attack Combat Turret) system fitted with two MMP 5th generation battlefield engagement missiles and a self-defence machine gun.
“This combination of two of the most modern technologies in their field is a very good example how robotic warfare systems will bring disruption to the battlefield and make some traditional technologies obsolete,” said Kuldar Väärsi, CEO of Milrem Robotics. “Our unmanned land combat system under study together with MBDA will be very efficient in keeping our troops safe and significantly increasing the capability to fight main battle tanks as well as any other ground target,” Väärsi added.
MMP is in service and has been operationally tested and proven in extremes of climate (desert and subarctic conditions). The system’s design includes the growth potential necessary for a future family of missiles for modern land combat. MMP – one multi-role missile providing maximum flexibility to the warfighter This unique fifth generation land combat missile system is the perfect candidate for combat vehicle integration and dismounted deployment.
Major MMP characteristics include: High level of day and night reconnaissance and identification capability; Lethality against a wide target set including latest MBT’s, defended structure and group of enemy in the open; Fire-and-forget or Man-in-the-Loop capabilities even at maximum range; Two firing modes with Man-in-the-Loop allowing retargeting, aim point selection and mission abort: – Lock-on-Before-Launch (LOBL) – Lock-on-After-Launch (LOAL); Uncooled IR seeker allows repeated lock-on to potential targets without consuming resources One missile, all terrain, all combat; Designed for open field operation or Urban warfare; Highly efficient against static and fast moving targets; Target engagement beyond an obstacle in Stand Alone.; Beyond Line of Sight engagement with third party designation; Deployable by mounted and dismounted troops as well as from naval craft Operational advantages; One munition with a multi-purpose tandem warhead capable of defeating more than 1,000mm of RHA, all generation ERA, a group of personnel and penetrating more than 3m concrete; Always the right firing mode, missile trajectory and lethal effect selectable for any combat configuration; Successful LOBL firing demonstrated at 5km in ambient condition; Beyond Line of Sight Firing Capability in networked operations; Long lasting continuous observation capability with a single rechargeable battery.
Lockheed Martin Miniature Hit-To-Kill Missile
In January 2018 Lockheed Martin’s (NYSE: LMT) Miniature Hit-to-Kill (MHTK) missile successfully conducted a controlled flight test to demonstrate the interceptor’s increased agility, and to validate the performance of its airframe and electronics — now common between MHTK’s two configurations to drive affordability.
The test at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, was the first ever for MHTK’s updated electronics, and the second for the interceptor’s next-generation airframe. Commonality between the two missile configurations (active and semi-active seeker), and the increased agility demonstrate MHTK’s transformational capabilities to defeat rocket, artillery and mortar (RAM) targets with greater accuracy, reliability and range compared to current systems. Funded by Lockheed Martin, the successful test advances the program’s technical maturity level and builds confidence in the interceptor’s ability to defeat current and evolving threats.
“The U.S. Army and international customers have made it clear that today’s global security environment demands agile, close-range solutions that protect warfighters and citizens from enemy rockets, artillery and mortars. The design of the MHTK interceptor enables a highly effective solution in a very compact package,” said Tim Cahill, vice president of Integrated Air and Missile Defense at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “This test is exciting because it is another successful milestone demonstrating the interceptor’s revolutionary capabilities. We look forward to building on this success.”
Shorter than a yardstick, MHTK retains the range and lethality required of a counter-RAM solution. MHTK uses hit-to-kill technology, which destroys threats through an extremely accurate application of kinetic energy in body-to-body contact. Hit-to-kill technology eliminates the incoming threat while reducing the risk of collateral damage seen in traditional blast-fragmentation interceptors.
The MHTK interceptor is less than 2.5 feet (72 cm) in length and weighs about 5 pounds (2.2 kg) at launch. The mini missile has the potential to bring miniaturized capabilities to the warfighter with lower costs and reduced logistic footprints, while opening a world of opportunities for applications of small interceptors.
In June 2018 The U.S. Army Cruise Missile Defense Systems Project Office awarded Lockheed Martin a $2.6 million dollar contract to mature the Miniature Hit-to-Kill (MHTK) interceptor, evaluate its effectiveness and demonstrate manufacturing readiness as part of the Extended Mission Area Missile Program. Announced by the company at the Eurosatory exhibition, this award marks the MHTK’s transition from the Science and Technology (S&T) phase to the Development phase.
“This award brings us one step closer to addressing a top battlefield priority – having an effective and cost-efficient solution to defeat rockets, artillery, mortars and other airborne targets,” said Hal Stuart, Force Protection program manager at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.
Previous S&T contracts with the U.S. Army, together with Lockheed Martin investment, helped mature the MHTK missile from basic research to a concept demonstration with two configurations – a semi-active radio frequency seeker and an active radio frequency seeker. MHTK has conducted a dozen flight tests with a combination of investment and contract funds. The most recent controlled flight test in January at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, demonstrated the interceptor’s increased agility and validated performance of the airframe and electronics, which are now common between MHTK’s two configurations to drive affordability.
The MHTK missile is designed to defeat rocket, artillery and mortar targets through body-to-body contact without a warhead at ranges projected to exceed those of current and interim systems. The missile is just under two and a half feet (76 cm) in length, an inch and a half (4 cm) in diameter and weighs about five pounds (2.2 kg) at launch. The compact size of MHTK allows multiple rounds to be packaged in a very small footprint to effectively combat complex threat situations like saturation attacks. The MHTK interceptor complements the Lockheed Martin family of Hit-to-Kill missile interceptors by delivering close range lethality with proven success for truly layered defense.
Thales Precision Strike LMM
It is recognised that a capability gap exists for a multi-role lightweight missile which can provide high lethality against the full spectrum of potential targets. The Thales Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM) system satisfies this capability gap.
LMM has an excellent Multi-Role capability for light and heavy platforms. Key advanced features include: Immediate launch capability – no seeker cool down, ‘Soft’ launch for release from lightweight platforms, Fully controlled engagement using secure guidance , Fire on the move capability, Automatic cut-down capability for missile in flight, thereby preventing fratricide, Highly accurate precision strike with low collateral damage and Compatible with existing laser beam-riding systems,
*Lightweight 13 kg
*Greater than Mach 1.5 velocity
*No launch recoil
*Operational range >6 km
*Combination warhead with shaped charge penetrator and pre-fragmented blast warhead with matching proximity fuze
*Maintenance free – hermetically sealed launch tube LMM
LMM is a lightweight, precision strike, missile, which has been designed to be fired from a variety of lightweight, tactical platforms. The system is designed to provide a rapid reaction to a wide range of surface threats from wheeled or tracked vehicles, towed artillery or static installations. The accuracy and effect of the LMM concept has been demonstrated against a wide range of ground targets with minimum collateral damage. Thales has performed preliminary integration of LMM onto various gun systems and Remote Weapon Stations (RWS) thus increasing the defensive capability of Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV), light 4×4 vehicles and fixed installations. A two man portable launcher can also be fitted to flatbed vehicles offering an agile and rapidly deployable solution. The missile, sealed in its canister, consists of a two stage motor, warhead and dual mode fuze, together with guidance electronics and a highly accurate control actuator system. The fragmenting shaped charge warhead coupled with the laser proximity fuze provides excellent lethality against a wide range of targets. This is achieved with low collateral damage which is essential in built-up and urban environments. LMM guidance is provided via the optical tracker system fitted to the launch platform. This guidance unit is contained within an optically stabilised mount which normally comprises CCD and thermal cameras coupled with an automatic target tracker (ATT) and the missile laser guidance unit. LMM possesses excellent lethality against conventional and asymmetric threats including APCs, wheeled and tracked vehicles, because of the shaped charge coupled with the pre-fragmented blast warhead, matched with the highly sensitive proximity fuze.